enemy of the state
one man's conspiracy is another man's business plan
Friday, June 23, 2006 | The current mood of DuctapeFatwa
Is Angelina Jolie the New Madonna? A CultuRamble

It recently came to my attention that we had changed TV satellite signal providers. Having been a DirecTV household for many years, in the course of one afternoon when I was elsewhere located and otherwise occupied, there was apparently a moment in which operatives had installed a Dishnetwork disc onto the roof, our erstwhile receiver boxes had been unceremoniously relegated to a position of low status by the dumpster, having been replaced by a thing I was told is a "dual receiver," liberating space in my lair, but most jarringly, my remote, my REMOTE! - had been usurped by one that was - there is no kind or polite way to put this - different. As in not the same. Not the one my fingers knew, not the one my thumb called friend.

How had such a thing come to pass in my house? Am I not the head of not only it, but a stunning array of respectful descendants, an entire clan, nay nation-quality TRIBE of distinguished and noted individuals of ancient and historic lineage? Am I not addressed and deferred to daily, hourly, continuously, with flowery honorifics of such exquisite and elaborate language that old dead Fahad himself spins green with envy?

Who, WHO, I demanded in my most fearsome and imperious tone, emerging from my lair and assuming my most intimidating and regal pose at the top of the stairs, WHO? I will know the name of the benighted and soon to be ill-fated entity that has dared to do this thing!

A few descendants became present at the foot of the stairs, looking appropriately terrified. But not guilty. The knave could not be among their number. A few more hesitantly joined them, eyes satisfyingly saucer-like with fear. But still no guilt.

Believing I had probably assembled about the best crowd that was likely at this hour of the morning, I decided to go to Step Two, and find out whom they were protecting.

Unusually tall people seldom have either need or inclination to "draw ourselves up to full height," and while I pride myself on good posture, and certainly do not ever humch myself over in what would be a both futile and ridiculous attempt to make myself look any less tall, it is extremely rare that I will make a deliberate and conscious musculo-skeletal effort to add additional fear factor to my person. But I did so now. This was Step Two.

"WHO?" I thundered. Another thing I do not often do, being blessed with what I have been told is a naturally stentorian tone, a basso-profundo that can be unnerving to the faint-hearted and the very young, as a consequence, I have made it my custom to try to speak softly. But though there may be only a handful of occasions, even in a life as improbably long as my own, when a man has need to thunder, finding that his beloved Remote has been summarily replaced by another unfamiliar, not the same, DIFFERENT device, is one of them, and so thunder I did. They were covering for somebody, and I would not have it.

There was something like a sound from the now visibly trembling assembly cowering in the foyerette. It sounded to me like someone trying to say "um," but their mouth was too dry.

"SPEAK UP! WHO?" I thundered again.

A very small descendant cleared his very small throat.

"Um, most honored and cherished and respected ancestor, I thank you for my existence, and hope you will, in your kindness, permit me to say that our most honored and cherished and respected Mother Ancestor, to whom I am grateful for her love and thoughfulness, without which I would not exist, said that - " he piped, but was interrupted by a breeze of silk and the scent of roses and sandalwood and oud and maybe jasmine, I have never figured out exactly what, but it is a fragrance that has enchanted me, and been my privilege to enjoy for more years than most mens' lives last, and - well never mind that, but there was the peal of her laugh, "More channels, less money," and the next thing I knew, my arms held sunshine and all the sky, and as I was wearing my distance vision glasses, I could see that the fear-rounded eyes at the bottom of the stairs were twinkling, and someone whispered something like at their age, so sweet, and someone else gave him a soft reproving kick and hissed and we are damn privileged that it is so, hyena brain, and then there was flagrant, blatant, unabashed giggling on the part of my descendants, whom I dismissed. "And we can pause live TV!" Madame explained. I mumbled something about the remote. "Oh, is it different?" Madame seldom touches any remote, except to turn the set on or off, and occasionally change channels. "Well, there's a booklet."

What there is, it turns out, is a thick manual. An FM. Which, I suppose, I shall have to read. I will be obliged to RTFM as they say, in order to be able to perform the feat of Pausing Live TV, which is apparently something that the rest of the world has been doing for some time now. Madame is most eager to watch with glowing pride as *I* wreak this miracle of modernity. She, of course, is as disinclined to "booklet" reading as she is to operating remotes, except as previously noted, but is nevertheless confident that I will be the most proficient and remarkable Pauser of Live TV in all the land.

I reach for my reading glasses and pick up the hefty FM. I note the size of the print and change to the industrial strength reading glasses, and after perusing it for a short time, I find that I have become very skilled at channel-changing, an activity which quickly demonstrates to me that Madame was correct, as usual. There are indeed more channels.

There is one in particular that I have never seen before. It is called the Style Network, and I am immediately fascinated by it. I decide to leave it there for a while, as I alternately RTFM and check the news on the internets, which usually runs a month or so ahead of CNN anyway, news-wise.

The target audience of the Style Network appears to be young, affluent American women and girls. The shows tend to be about "ambushing" women and committing upon them acts called a "makeover." The makeover always has three elements: hair, makeup, and clothing. Sometimes the young women look, to my eyes, considerably worse after the makeover. But they all express the view that they look much better. Many claim the experience will have changed their lives. Another element common to all the makeovers is that the ladies are obliged to put on crippling high heeled shoes, whether they had previously been engaging in this particularly grisly form of self-harm or not.

There was also a variation of the Ambush Makeover called The Look for Less. This show differs from Ambush Makeover in that the acts committed on the young lady are consensual. She has apparently approached the show people, outlining her need to obtain a high fashion Look for Less in order to impress friends and family at some special event.

My heart went out to the hostess. Although she cannot be more than twenty-something, already she has had quite a bit of cosmetic surgery. She looks like she might have been a very pretty young girl before these surgeries, though since all young girls are beautiful, this is something of a subjective and relative notion. The poor thing has had false cheekbones inserted into her face, and decorates the resulting protrusions with an immoderate amount of rouge. She has also had that popular lip fattening operation, in the style of the popular actress the descendants refer to as "FishLips" though her actual name, Angelina, is very pretty, I think, and like the hostess of the Look for Less, one has the impression that she too might have been pretty had she refrained from having these surgical operations. Anyway, the Look for Less hostess, whose name is Yoanna, now has a look that is somewhat reminiscent of the Lady Clowns in the old style circus shows, as well as several members of the popular Jackson family, who are frequently employed as unintentional clowns on the new style circus shows. And a very high pitched voice. This, I learned, is one of the show's defining features. This show contains more squealing than any of the others, which is saying a lot.

The hostess, the "Special Guest Stylist to the Stars," as well as the seeker of the Look for Less are all required to have very high pitched voices, and substitute squeaking and squealing sounds for words quite frequently. They appear to understand each other, so I realize that it is a modern dialect, and is also being understood by millions of young ladies.

Anyway, the show goes like this: The hostess, Yoanna, shows two photos of fashion models wearing designer outfits to the Special Guest Stylist to the Stars and the Seeker of the Look, they choose which one will be most appropriate for the Seeker's Special Event, then Yoanna gives the Special Guest Stylist to the Stars $150 and informs her that they have an hour to achieve The Look for Less. Special Guest Stylist to the Stars and the Seeker run off hand in hand down the length of an upscale mall, squealing. They run into a store, as Special Guest Stylist to the Stars explains that this or that component of the Look should be searched for first, as it will be the most difficult or cost the most. The announcer informs us, in a high pitched voice, that time is running out, and we are shown scenes from the upcoming segments, where Special Guest Stylist to the Stars and/or Yoanna express great anxiety and dismay that the Look may not be successfully duplicated before time and/or money run out.

A worried Yoanna sometimes offers to help, sometimes reminds the duo that they only have fifteen minutes (they do spend some of their time meeting Yoanna for these mini-conferences before dashing off again, teetering on their crippling high heeled shoes, and squealing.)

The shoppers hurriedly flip through the racks, breathlessly squealing infobits for the benefit of Seeker and viewers alike, that this or that does not quite achieve the Look because it is too something or not enough something else, but miraculously, with seconds to spare, all the garments necessary for the Look are obtained for under $150 and the Seeker emerges wearing them, looking, as one might imagine, nothing remotely like the model at the fashion show in the picture, but radiant with happiness because she feels that she has the Look.

Please pardon a bit of pontificating here, but it is hardly a recent phenomenon that couture houses design their clothing for ladies who are six feet tall and weigh a hundred pounds, and this is, in fact, the approximate size of the fashion models who pose in the clothes on the "catwalk."

All the "Womens Liberation" that has allegedly taken place in the west has not changed this fact, nor has it changed the fact that very few ladies who are not fashion models are six feet tall and weigh one hundred pounds.

Thus, it does not matter whether one is rich enough to purchase the original designer Look itself, or whether one copies it for less, with or without the aid of Yoanna and the Special Guest Stylist to the Stars, the Look is not going to be the same on a lady who is of more nearly "average" proportions, and it is hoped that these these Seekers of the Look will, as their mothers before them, come into a more enlightened bloom and liberate themselves to discover and celebrate their own Look, one that they design for themselves, to flatter their own faces and figures, and leave the Looks in the glossy catwalk photos to Kate Moss and ilk.

And continuing in that same vein of hopes, it is also hoped that Yoanna will, upon her own bloom into the fullness of her adult womanhood and accompanying improved judgment and refinement of taste, return to the surgeon and ask him to restore her own cheekbones, which will look better on her face than anything in the false cheekbone catalog, and I am told by a descendant that poor FishLips and all who follow her in that unwholesome lip fattening custom must do so every few months, so Yoanna will require no surgical repair to return her mouth to its natural shape.

After watching two or three episodes of The Look for Less, I felt a distinct discomfort in my ears from all the squealing, and was relieved to see that the next show would be about weddings.

This show, and its genre-mates, for I was to learn that there does in fact exist an entire genre of Wedding TV, is actually quite educational, at least for those of us who are not so familiar with American wedding customs.

Again, I must pontificate. Westerners, specifically Americans, frequently criticize the east for the undeniably deplorable and unquestionably indefensible custom of families going into debt, often a debt they will not be able to pay and will therefore be passed on to the next generation, in order to put on an elaborate wedding whose purpose has more to do with impressing the larger community with their "generosity" than with what should be a celebration of family, of love, an occasion for the families of bride and groom, and those who love them.

On one of the shows, a wedding planner stated that the average wedding in the US costs $20,000. According to the US Census' figures, about half of the population of the US enjoys an annual income above $35,000.

If that wedding planner's statement was accurate, either those Americans who decry the east for going into debt to pay for expensive weddings are opening themselves to charges of hypocrisy, or Wedding TV only spotlights very rich people, because most of the weddings featured cost far more than twenty thousand, and about half of them run into the hundreds of thousands.

Yet to my admittedly persnickety old eyes, they appear to get very little for their money. Perhaps the splendor does not translate well to the small screen, but one would think that for such immense sums, there would be such an abundance of it that it would translate even to the screen of a cell phone, but unless one counts the already-present glitz of a few posh hotel salons, what is provided by the small army of caterers and planners and florists and cake artists seems singularly lacking in splendor. I will make a near-exception, I suppose, for the cake artists, I have seen at least one cake deserving of that adjective, maybe two.

I cannot help but wonder what they would think of our humble weddings, humble in that no one goes into debt, nor is there any intention, as so often stated by the members of the TV weddings, to impress anybody, or do anything that "no one will be able to top," but almost everything is done by family and friends, so our total expenditure for "fees" hovers steadily at zero. I say "almost" since I am not the family expert on these matters, by any means, and I may be overlooking something, but the food, the flowers, decorations, music, "venue," and even the wedding garments are provided by family members and close friends. And seldom have I seen such splendor.

When not aiding those seeking the Look, or ambushing strangers on the street found to not be in possession of the Look, or educating earth residents on the strange marriage customs of Americans who, having achieved the Look, have been rewarded with what we may hope is love, (though if it is based on the bride or groom having the Look, chances are not good) the Style Network is sort of like an extended dance mix of the traditional White Trash TV fare that can be seen on traditional network TV.

I find this particular genre of programming to be exquisitely entertaining: Breaking News! Eva Longoria involved in car accident! And just WAIT till you hear WHICH famous A-lister was seen at Quizno's - WITHOUT MAKEUP! We've got the latest developments, and only we have the photos, right here on Entertaining Insider's Current People's Edition!

Various ologists have compared modern-day "celebrities" to the deities of ancient pantheons, and while some pantheons are so ancient that not even I am able to accurately recall any must-see cuneiforms that can be said to be homologous to the shows hosted by Pat O'Brien and Mary Hart, there are good arguments to be made that the adulation and emulation lavished on the "A-listers" has more in common with actual religious sentiment than the theologically correct overpious sentiments professed by many Westerners regarding Jesus and his mother.

Though clerics have for generations inspired little but rolling eyes and yawns in their exhortations to young Christian ladies to adopt a "Mary-like" style of dress, if Britney or Angelina or Nicole so much as attends an industry function wearing a particular style of gown, young Seekers of the Look from New England to Seattle will demand that every store from Wal-Mart to Saks allow them to pay some homage and dollars to it.

And while clerics and parents alike have largely given up any expectation of modern young men or women being anything approaching "Christ-like" in their deeds and behavior, adoption agency execs everywhere have been grinning like Cheshire cats and high-fiving each other ever since Brad Pitt signed himself over to the fatherhood of Fishl - um, Angelina's adopted babies.

All this is understandable if one considers that the purpose of anthropomorphized deities and their friends in the first place was to make them more "accessible" to humans. While there are and have always been those who are perfectly comfortable with abstract concepts, the fact is that the majority of people want, even need, a more familiar hook upon which to hang such weighty notions. They can only sit and contemplate the nature of One-ness or Infinity for so long before wanting to know all about the romantic scandals of Zeus and Isis and King David, and what they were wearing when the scandal went down, and just what all the other principal players had to say about it.

This was as true of the ancients as it is of today's most intrepid Seekers of the Look, so before we let the scorn curl our lips beyond the ability of even Nick Arrojo to relax them, we would do well to stop and reflect on all the occasions in ancient times when the current gods were toppled, in favor of the new and improved gods. Not the overnight sensation topplings favored by kings and warlords and invaders, but the gradual erosion and re-beachings that occurred over time, with near-evolutionary slowness.

So the next time someone asks if Britney or Angelina could be the new Madonna, it just might behoove you to hold back the sneer, and purse those lips instead, while looking very, very thoughtful...

posted at 11:34 AM

Friday, June 09, 2006 | The current mood of DuctapeFatwa

Indigenous Nudity versus White Girl Coin Slot: Racism in America

The other night, I had the privilege of entertaining an old friend. It is his first visit to the US, but as he and I have reluctantly acknowledged the truth of the old Mexican adage, "the years do not pass in vain," after a day of sight-seeing, we both wished our combined young folks well as they went out to paint the town red and gratefully sank down to some Pillow Appreciation combined with Order In and Televiewing.

There was an interesting show on one of the discover and learn or something channels, about some very nice people who live in a remote area of one of the islands today called Indonesia, and after a commercial break during which re refilled our teacups and said how much we would like to go there and meet these friendly folks, a message appeared on the screen, warning us that the program we were watching "contained indignous nudity" and therefore might not be appropriate for all viewers or something to that effect.

My guest and I exchanged bewildered looks. WTF? Indigenous nudity? Perhaps because neither of us can boast a background devoid enough of diversity, nor steeped enough in the appalling and twisted Calvinism that forms the basis for so much of mainstream America's worldview, we had not really noticed much about the sartorial practices of the people on the show, though we had admired their bling, we had mostly been impressed with how nice they were to each other and the visiting TV people, and how everyone we saw seemed like somebody we would like to get to know, go and visit, sit around in the evening and talk to, and learn from.

We could not imagine exactly for whom this program might not be appropriate. Somebody who is allergic to nice friendly people, maybe? And what exactly is meant by "indigenous nudity?" In our own simple and child-like way of thinking, we had not been aware that there were these divisions or gradations in the nature of nudity.

We had in our ignorance, supposed, if we thought about it much, which I can't say that we do, that nudity is nudity, and that the fellow explaining to the TV people how excellent canoes are made from the trunk of a particular tree enjoys the same nudity as does, for example, Donald Trump or tom Hanks, that is to say, that nudity for one would be identical to nudity for the other, the only differences having to do with individual physical characteristics, while the quality of nudity itself would be identical.

But now we were being asked to make this distinction. Indigenous nudity versus the nudity of immigrants? Of the sons of invaders?

My guest nodded wisely. The distinction, he said, is in white versus non-white. He changed the channel, and the screen immediately filled with the doings of Paris Hilton. Paris turned around, and we saw that the area immediately above the line of her blue jeans was blurred out. However there had been no message warning us of this, just discreetly and quietly blurring out of the coin slot area. No need for explanations, understanding is understood.

If you do not instinctively understand why indigenous nudity is a different thing than other, specifically, white, peoples' nudity, and why it requires a warning screen, and why a white girl's coin slot must be blurred or pixelated out with no warning screen, then the chances are that you are not a white American, or if you are, then you are a very strange one, who will need special instruction should you ever wish to apply for a job with a future and health insurance in a large office building.

When most mainstream Americans discuss racism, they will begin by emphasizing how free of it they are.

While the traditional "some of my best friends" has morphed into subtler incarnations, this reflects not actually a diminuition in the racism level itself, but an increased awareness that racism is a bad thing, the speaker must endeavor to emphasize his own devoidness of it.

However, when we make bold to peek into the everyday lives of that proverbial "average mainstream American," we find that in 2006, he is not much more likely than his grandfather to engage in much non-work related social interaction with people whose ethnicity diverges from that traditional mainstream American Euro-melange.

With some notable and delightful exceptions, most middle and upper-middle class neighborhoods in the US are remarkably ethnically homogeneous. Remarkable because today, when one puts together all the traditional American minority groups, in most urban and metropolitan areas, their total will exceed in numbers will exceed the Euro-Merican total, thus that there still exist so many "white" hoods would not be possible without a concerted effort.

There was a news report the other day regarding one aspect of this, the majority of real estate agents, someone's study found, do in fact "steer" homebuyers to neighborhoods where the prevalent ethnicity of the residents matches that of the would-be homebuyer.

Thus, white home buyers will be told that neighborhood A has "good schools," which is the understood code for "schools where most of the students are white," whereas inquiries about a listing in neighborhood B will be answered with the caveat that the schools are not so good, the code for "schools with a large number of non-white students." Some may vary the message, characterizing the area as "very diverse," which is will be a huge red flag to the discerning white house hunter, while not sounding quite as off-putting to the more "liberal" client, and is also very useful when dispensing lowdown on hoods to childless homebuyers, or those whose children are already away at college.

In another televiewing experience, the producers had two families, one black, one white, made up to resemble the other race, and go out into the world.

The father of the black family, made up to look like a white man, got a job as a bartender in almost all-white community, something of an anomaly in Southern California, as was acknowledged to him by the regulars, as the struck up a conversation with the new barkeep.

Proud and pleased they were to have almost miraculously maintained their little neighborhood as a sort of white enclave, a safe haven devoid of the alarming diversity that seemed to be taking over the region like mold in a New Orleans basement.

This remarkable feat, his customers informed the astonished bartender, meant that one could raise one kids here without, you know, worrying.

It is indeed a worrisome time for mainstream Americans with school aged children. Just as everyone thought the Afro-American Question had been settled, with some of them living in very nice areas, very nice, nicer than some of the you know, regular nice neighborhoods, just when they thought it was safe, here come the Mexicans, bringing the chilling threat of bilingualism, talked to a lady the other day, came home one day and found her daughter talking on the telephone - in Spanish! Well, she got her out of that public school and into a nice private one they next day, said she'd rob Peter to pay Paul if she had to, but well, you can just imagine. Now she is not prejudiced understand, any more than I am, of course not, I was just saying the other day, America did a good thing when we got rid of all that. I mean Martin Luther King is a real hero for all the kids, no matter what color they are. And Oprah, well, I think it is just wonderful the success she has had, and I don't mind saying so. So we are not talking about prejudiced people, but, well the other day we went over the bridge to get some of that filo dough, you know those little layers they use in I think it's Turkey, anyway we got there, and what do you think, almost all the signs in Spanish now. I'm talking about signs on the streets. Not in their houses or on their TV, you know they've got their own TV, anyway we went in there, and would you believe the girl that sold us the filo dough was Spanish? We could not take one step on that street without hearing people speaking it, and that used to be a fairly nice area, it always was diverse, you know, but now, I don't know, but we are going to have to do something.

The Spanish language TV stations, it must be noted, neither warn viewers of indigenous nudity nor blur out coin slots. Even the coin slots of white girls.

posted at 2:22 AM

Sunday, June 04, 2006 | The current mood of DuctapeFatwa

Understanding America the Exceptional: A Guide for the World's Perplexed

Why is everything always America's fault? What's with the Blame America Firsters?

Americans are getting a bit fed up with criticism of their policies, and many are truly perplexed as to why they seem to come under such fire from critics. Do they not investigate almost every report of atrocity that makes it to US corporate press? Even western press? Have they not made a very public point of very publicly jailing the individuals who were found to be engaging in unauthorized photography in Abu Ghraib? Why aren't people as outraged over all those IEDs the Iraqi insurgents keep deploying against coalition forces? And what about all the renewed terrorist activity in Afghanistan? How come so much of the world seems more alarmed by the idea of US airstrikes on Tehran - even using only conventional weapons - than they are about the prospect of a nuclear Iran, as Second Islamic Bomb.

The disconnect between mainstream America and critics abroad is unarguably a wide one, and most likely an unbridgeable one, at least in practical and reality-based terms, but it may be possible for each, if they try, to get at least some sort of understanding of the other's position, even though it is very unlikely that anyone will change their minds.

Let's look at the American point of view first, since so many people around the world have trouble understanding it. The first step is accepting, whether you agree with the practice or not, that Americans are taught almost from birth that not only is the United States the greatest country in the world, but it is so much greater than any other country, in every possible way, that laws and rules that may govern the way the global community of nations behaves toward each other simply do not apply to the US because of its greatness and uniqueness. It is not that the US objects, for example, to international laws or the Geneva cnoventions. In fact, if any other nation even thought about going round to other countries and seizing people at will, and hauling them off to secret torture camps, you can bet that the US would be the first to condemn such an atrocity, and would aggressively pursue any and all strategies and methods to put a stop to the practice immediately, and bring that rogue nation to heel, quite very possibly including a very swift and most likely unceremonious regime change. Now there might be exceptions to that. Note that word exception, because you will be hearing it a lot. An exception might be, for instance, Israel. As most people are aware, the US and Israel have a very special and unique relationship. So special and unique in fact that situations, such as that international kidnapping and torture camp thing, might not be looked at in the same way as it would if say Malaysia did it. Or France. Or Iran. Like the US itself, Israel would be considered an Exception.

That word, exception, is so important because to Americans, it's not just a word. It's not just a policy. It's a doctrine. A fundamental core value on which policy is based, and according to which policy is implemented.

Or let's look at the matter of invading other countries. A few weeks ago, an Iranian official pointed out that Iran had not invaded any other countries in 250 years. It has become a pretty standard and accepted principle in most of the world that this is something that is ismply not done. You do not see Denmark, for instance, invading and occupying Luxembourg because they don't like the government of Luxembourg, or because they think Luxembourg may be aquiring a weapon that Denmark doesn't want them to have.

Frankly, the idea is so far-fetched, so out of bounds of the behavior of modern, civilized nations that it sounds absurd! Could Denmark do it? Well, quite possibly. It is certainly a larger nation, and might have superior firepower. But here is where it becomes impossible to give the American point of view an honest look outside the context of the way the rest of the world thinks. But people just do not think to much about what kind of weaponry Denmark has with which to invade Luxembourg, or whether Luxembourg has an air defense system that could pose a danger to Danish personnel. This is just not something that modern, civilized countries do! And where did this thing about Denmark and what weapons Luxembourg has or is shopping for or wants or whatever - what in the world would that have to do with Denmark? None of this makes the slightest bit of sense, it all sounds like some over the top bad comedy movie from the 1960s.

So here is where we must return to the American point of view - American exceptionalism. There is no doubt in anybody's mind that if Denmark even suggested that it was thinking of invading Luxembourg or anywhere, the US would, as with the case of kidnapping and torture camps, be the first to express complete outrage at such a barbaric suggestion, and send some of its men over to Copenhagen to find out first hand just what this ridiculous talk is about.

The fact that the US is currently openly occupying two countries that it invaded, is preparing to invade a third, and has very forthrightly shared with the world a list of dozens of countries that it is considering invading is in no way relevant to this situation with Denmark. You just can't compare apples and oranges.

And that is exactly what you are doing when you answer very simple and valid questions about this wacko talk coming out of Denmark with the yada yada yada of complaints about America, blaming America again. Why can't you understand that what you are asking just does not make sense?

America is an Exception.

And America is also very powerful militarily, so Denmark and every other country on the globe had better mind their ps and qs and not do anything America has ordered them not to do, like obtain weapons. Any weapons the US wants them to have, the US will provide. (And sometimes that providing activity can be a source of some real surprise, even to Americans!) Anyway, any serious discussion of possible Danish aggression against Luxembourg of anybody else is not served at all by trying to make it about the United States. Always wanting to blame America. Well, this is about Denmark and once again, since it appears to be too complex for you to grasp, America's foreign policy initiatives have absolutely nothing to do with the subject under discussion, which is this alarming talk coming from Copenhagen.

America is an Exception.

This is why the disconnect may be unbridgeable: No matter how off the wall, no matter how, well, wacko this may sound to you, to most people in the world, it is something that is very real to Americans, something so true that to them they view it much as they view the idea that water is wet.

Almost from birth they are inculcated with this doctrine, this value. It is so deeply ingrained in the mainstream American psyche, that they are very truly, very sincerely, like someone suffering clinical depression, unable to just "snap out of it." Where would they snap to? They do not know any other way, they cannot simply abandon this principle. That would be abandoning their national identity! That principle IS their national identity!

It is also important to remember that Americans are not, by any means, stupid people.

While it may seem at times that they are just unable to understand certain concepts, the fact is that they have the same capacity we all do to understand the concepts, however they have been taught that whatever those concepts may be, that you were getting ready to lay out, all nice and neat -

America is an Exception.

Because that forms the core belief, upon which all other beliefs, all other attitudes and opinions, rest, it naturally follows that all thinking processes, all logic and reason and capability for argument, are rendered, for your purposes, essentially mute, because your logic and reason not only do not require the doctrine of American Exceptionalism in order to function, your logic and reason do not even accept it as either reasonable or logical.

To you, it is simply something that is not true. To most mainstream Americans it is very nearly the only thing that is.

So how can meaningful dialogue with Americans be achieved?

What is an effective way to conduct a discussion with someone who believes himself to be of a Exceptional Master Race?

Tragically for the world, there is not one. This is equally tragic for the Americans themselves - all of them, even those miraculously un-indoctrinated minority who believe their country to be the bestest in the traditional way that we all do - The non-weaponized way. The way that includes observance of world etiquette, like not invading and occupying other countries, and not kidnapping people and hauling them off to torture camps, I could go on, but just start with these. There are Americans whose world view is more like the view of well, the world.

They are the Exception.

They are also exceptionally courageous.

Some of them are so courageous that they have suggested that acts of violence against their own countrymen might not even be terrorism!

To appreciate just how courageous this is, consider that it is almost universally accepted among mainstream Americans that regardless of what Americans may do to the Iraqis and the Afghans, any retaliatory action on the part of Iraqi and Afghan survivors is a classic textbook example of terrorism.

To the rest of the world, they may be just people defending their homes from a hostile invading force, as anyone would do when well, invaded by a hostile invading force, but to most Americans, that is simply not the case with the Afghans and Iraqis, since they have been invaded by Americans, and it is for their own good, to effect regime change and impose America's will, and -

America is an Exception.

It would therefore, constitute terrorism to shoot at or otherwise attempt to harm the people who blew up your house, if they happened to be Americans. Indeed, you should be grateful that Americans have made such a great sacrifice of their own money and put their own youth in harm's way in order to help you obey America.

It may be commonly understood and appreciated across the globe that in any such situation, the aggressor, the party who commits the invasion, has irrevocably tipped the moral high ground scales in the other fellow's favor, and while the invadee may, in an attempt to protect his own life and the lives of his loved ones, commit acts that are to say the least "assymetrical," such as booby-trapping roads that the invaders might use in order to come to his town to kill him and his loved ones, to destroy his home, to haul his sons off to torture camp, and his daughters to who knows where, the moral burden here, acknowledges most of the world, is not on him, but on the guys in the tanks on their way to the town.

Those guys, assert the overwhelming majority of human beings who inhabit earth, have no business being there in the first place. No matter how much revenue may be generated to which corporations, there is right and there is wrong, and invading other countries is wrong. Kidapping people is wrong. Torture, murder, sexual assault, burning the flesh off children, all wrong. No exceptions. And the fellow putting the booby trap in the road is not only not doing wrong, he would be wrong not to do whatever he can to protect his home, his family. That is his duty.

In the typical American mind, however, as well as on the typical American newscast and certainly in the typical American comments on the subject by politicians of both "parties," it is as if the US had never invaded either country, as if all the guys in tanks, all those hundreds of thousands armed with automatic rifles and bayonets and a substance that is NOT napalm because it is not even called that anymore so stop saying that, armed with pistols, too, with dogs, and dog leashes, and as we see from some of the unauthorized photos, harmful tobacco products, it is as if they all just happened to be innocent tourists vacationing in Iraq, or in Afghanistan, and suddenly for no reason whatsoever, both these countries simply exploded into hotbeds of anti-American sentiment, and now, mourn the Americans, our brave troops are under constant attack.

As everyone knows, well, as least as most mainstream Americans know, the only way to deal with anti-American sentiment is with tough love, a zero tolerance policy. Stamp it out. And the best way to do that is with bombing. That is the only way these people are going to learn to be grateful. And it is also important to make an example, because frankly that whole region is a hotbed of anti-American sentiment, and must be brought to heel.

And so the rest of the world listens. In disbelief, in bewilderment, and yes, fear.

America is without a doubt the most feared nation on earth. Feared certainly for its massive stores of weapons of mass destruction, but just as much if not more, it is feared because of its people, who present a greater danger even than its bombs.

Its people who would rather spend a dollar to kill the neighbor's child than a dime to take care of their own.

Its people who are willing to sacrifice anything the corporations might ever have permitted them to have for the privilege of being part of imposing America's will.

Its people who today, with the notable and precious exception of those notable and precious few Exceptions, speak with one voice: Iran must obey America!

Because America is an Exception.

posted at 12:47 AM

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Actions like Sep 11 do not happen in a vaccuum. Long before those hijackers ever stepped foot on the planes the damage had been done. They were brainwashed with the same type of garbage propaganda that is spewed from Fatwa's weblog.
Middle Eastern countries are so much more barbaric today and preAmercia than America can ever hope to be...America has only been around 230 years...who did you blame for everything before that Ductape? I am calling a Fatwa on your bullshit!
IMO - terrorist plain and simple. He is an Al queda operative who should be put in a cage on gitmo
My favorite..."In Defense of Holocaust Deniers"
I always thought that "The Enemy Within" was just a metaphore for liberalism, that is, until I encountered Ductape Fatwa. He should be in an orange jumpsuit for sure.
ductape is either a commie, al queda, or a deep cover mole
Tells you something about this asshole doesn't it. He's really serious.
I believe that DF is nothing but a Republican plant...
Ductape is a commie, a terrorist, and he drinks blood too. He drinks Capitalist blood. He eats unborn babies too
Give me your address and I'll send you $20 and a thank-you note for taking your hatred elsewhere.
A terrorist with a sense of humor!
He ain't nuthin' but shit
Jim Sagle

inadequate, halfway house bullshit
Arthur Gilroy
You are a dumbass. Fuck you and your condescension about us "benighted sheeple."
Untruthful, damaging bullshit
John Locke
no better than the neocons and no different than Timothy McVeigh space
a turd in the punchbowl...if DF were Joe Hill he probably would have killed himself rather than get put to death.
A compost pile of fecundity
despicable and literally mentally ill